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Andorra: skiing in full swing
Andorra is snow country. A kingdom of just 500 square kilometres, this tiny country in the Pyrénées is a privileged enclave that has it all. Mountains of pine-forest and snow, shops with heavily discounted prices, luxury – but af fordable – hotels, plus a huge range of leisur e activities for all tastes and pockets.
The ski season is long and you can enjoy the shopping and spas all the year round. Vallnord has three different ski slopes that you can use by paying for just one ski-pass: Pal, Arinsal and Arcalis comprise literally kilometres of slopes and plenty of facilities so you have everything at your fingertips for your white winter holidays. It’s snow time!
WHEN winter comes, not even the laziest amongst us can resist getting away and hitting the slopes. Skiing attracts the young and old alike, because it’s not just a form of exercise. Heading for the mountains in the snow is also about finding peace and quiet, good food, breathing in clean air and spending time with family and friends.
Andorra has a long-standing skiing tradition and this activity is the country’s main attraction – a country that lives mostly off tourism both in summer and winter. These days there are two main skiing zones – Grandvalira includes the slopes of Pas de la Casa, Grauroig and Soldeu el Tarter, linked together by mechanical ski-lifts.
Vallnord encompasses the slopes of Pal, Arinsal and Arcalis, the first two joined by ski-lifes and the third accessible by road, although you can use all three with just one skipass (forfait).
Vallnord seeks to offer a vast range of activities in the snow, never forgetting to offer facilities that all the family can enjoy. To this end, every year they improve and expand their tourism activities, with particular emphasis on skiing, this being the biggest attraction of all.
But this doesn’t mean those members of the family who are not into skiing have to suffer – taking into account that the majority of trips to Andorra are for more than three days, the range of choices of activities is vast and there are plenty of options for leisure and relaxation for everyone.
Feeling at home
Finding accommodation in Andorra is very easy because there are plenty of hotels at every price, from the most economical for groups who want to stay together in an aparthotel through to five-star luxury establishments at the foot of the slopes.
Additionally, don’t forget that Andorra is an entire country and so if you want to get away from the madding crowds you can seek out a tiny rural village to stay overnight. Without a doubt, Andorra la Vella, the capital, is where the majority of the people and the accommodation are found, as well as the shops of course, but the remote villages that you see from the road as you wind your way up the mountains are perfect for guaranteed
rest and relaxation.
Escaldes, La Massana, Ordino and Erts are examples of some of the small villages full of charm where you can enjoy tailor-made accommodation and be close to the slopes. The majority of these villages retain their original Alpine structure with cobbled streets, stone houses and slate roofs.
The inhabitants are easily spotted by their marked accent, a cross between catalán and French, and the village bars are great for enjoying local wines and dishes typical of the country, which are mostly based on meat, particularly pork.
Well cared-for snow
When the economy of an entire country depends on the snow, all hands are on deck and every effort is made to maintain and protect it. In Vallnord, the snow is cared for all year round because, even though the skiing season only lasts five months, the rest of the year the area has to be maintained and the ground prepared for the winter.
Now, the ski season is in full swing and the quality of the snow on the ski
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